Wayback Wednesday: While You Were Sleeping (1995)

It’s always a yes to Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman for me.

When it comes to Christmas movies, my favourite ones seem to fall under one specific sub-genre: Christmas movies that aren’t even really about Christmas. Rather, they’re ones that just happen to take place around that time and use the holidays as a vague backdrop. You know the kind of movies I’m talking about. Movies like, The Holiday (2006), Love Actually (2003), and of course, While You Were Sleeping (1995). What I love so much about these kinds of movies is that unlike your typical Christmas movies, they don’t aggressively hit you over the head with Yuletide messages about the true meaning of Christmas which, let’s face it, we’ve all seen more times than any of us can count. Movies like While You Were Sleeping are so wonderful because they deliver just the right amount of heartwarming holiday feels without feeling nauseatingly sweet or gushy. Simply put, their top-notch romantic-comedies and While You Were Sleeping is one of the best.

Credit: imdb.com / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.

While You Were Sleeping follows Lucy Moderatz, a lonely Chicago Transit Authority token collector who is hopelessly in love with Peter, a handsome stranger that she sees everyday but has never spoken to. When she saves his life after he falls onto the train tracks, Lucy brings a comatose Peter to the hospital where she is mistaken for his fiancé. Peter’s loving family accepts Lucy with open arms, encouraging her to keep the charade going. As she gets closer to the family, she also gets close with Peter’s brother, Jack.

Now, I know what you must be thinking: “Hmmm, that premise kind of sounds like the set-up to a horror / thriller you’d watch on Lifetime.” And you’re absolutely right. With a touch of re-editing and re-writing, While You Were Sleeping could easily have been creepy, sinister, and all-around unsettling. I mean, could you imagine if you found out the woman calling herself your son’s fiancé and eating at you dinner table was a woman he had never met before? It’s chilling. Thankfully, While You Were Sleeping chooses to find the romance and the comedy in its premise and it’s thanks to the tone established by director Jon Turteltaub. From the opening scene, you’re pulled into an utterly delightful and uplifting movie that you never want to leave. While You Were Sleeping is filled with so many cheerfully pleasant scenes that you can’t help but want to stick around with the movie even after the end credits roll. You know how there are some movies you wish were just a little longer so you could spend a few more minutes enjoying the good time you’re having? That’s this movie. Actually, for me, that’s most Sandra Bullock movies.

I fucking love Sandra Bullock. She’s exceptional in every genre of movie I’ve seen her in, but there’s something about Bullock in a rom-com that is just perfection. She understands the genre so well and really knows how make each rom-com she’s in worthwhile. Bullock has a way of elevating whatever wacky rom-com she stars in into something special. While You Were Sleeping is no exception. As Lucy, each of Bullock’s jokes are landed with expert comedic timing and each moving monologue endears you more to her character. Even playing such a shy character, Bullock lights up the screen with her usual adorable charm, a quality she shares with the equally adorable and charming Bill Pullman.

I love Bill Pullman. As Jack, he’s expectedly dashing and instantly lovable, sharing a chemistry with Bullock that will have you rooting for this lovely couple they minute that they meet. It’s incredible. The pair play off each other with such ease that you fully buy that they’re a pair of strangers learning more about each other, pushing each other out of their comfort zones and slowly but surely falling in love. While You Were Sleeping is one of those rom-coms that play to the realities of real-life romance despite the outlandish premise and it’s that level of realism that will have you head over heels for Bullock and Pullman. I admire that they’re a pair of rom-com leads that genuinely compliment each other, both giving the other a sense of what they’re missing in their lives. That’s great writing that only helps make their whirlwind romance all the more believable and all the sweeter. God, everything about While You Were Sleeping is just sincerely the sweetest.

Part of that sweetness comes courtesy of the rest of the cast that make up Peter and Jack’s family. From the dependable Peter Boyle to the incomparable Glynis Johns, this is a family that anyone would want to spend the holidays with in a heartbeat. While You Were Sleeping not only boasts sensational leads, but like all the best rom-coms, also features a cast of memorable supporting characters that help supply the movie with just as much love and laughter to the movie. The cast brings a sense of warmth and love to each of their roles that makes them feel like a real, close-knit family. Every actor nails their roles perfectly, making sure the movie flows along in a way that constantly keeps you interested, entertained, and smiling the whole way through. In fact, I found it so hard to stay focused on taking notes because I was happily wrapped up in the delightful holiday charmer that is this movie. While You Were Sleeping is an irresistible crowd-pleaser that’s bound to be a comfort for all this December.

Speaking of comfort, can we talk about Lucy’s seemingly endless collection of incredibly cozy-looking chunky knit sweaters? They’re low-key a supporting character in this movie. There isn’t one frame of While You Were Sleeping where Lucy doesn’t look super comfortable and I’m OBSESSED with each cozy garment she wears. There isn’t a single one I wouldn’t steal for myself and then proceed to wear all Winter-long. As if While You Were Sleeping weren’t already a ton of fun to watch, you could totally turn it into a drinking game and take a shot each time Lucy puts on a new oversized sweater. Or each time someone suddenly trips, stumbles, or falls down. It surprisingly happens way more often than you’d expect.

While You Were Sleeping may not be an obvious pick when it comes to your choice for a Christmas movie, but come on: It’s an endearing story abut the joys of love and family. What’s more Christmas-y than that? If you’ve never experienced the sheer delight of While You Were Sleeping, I challenge you to watch it and try not to fall in love with it and want to instantly add it to your holiday watch list. Trust me. It’s going to be more difficult than getting Lucy out of those oversized sweaters. Which, again, I am OBSESSED with.

Have you seen While You Were Sleeping? What are your favourite Christmas movies?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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